Home > Uncategorized > Picturelife to SmugMug conversion – first problems

Picturelife to SmugMug conversion – first problems

So, here’s my current challenge

This is the total size of these three directories

Inside these directories should be three copies of the same photos:

  • picturelife_s3 is a download of my own S3 bucket, containing the raw data files used by Picturelife directly – such as including video thumbnails and resized copies
  • picturelife_sm is a download of the photos migrated to SmugMug, thanks to their recent on-boarding of the Picturelife business
  • picturelife_zip are the downloads I made using Picturelife’s exporter when it was working

Now, each should be the same – I should be able to just pick one, and delete the other two, right?

No. Definitely no.

  • picturelife_s3 by definition contains every photo Picturelife stored for me… but with hash (random) values for filenames, and often with none of the metadata like date taken, or caption, because all that data was not held in the bucket, but in Picturelife’s own databases
  • picturelife_sm is a transfer and export of PL’s photos via Smugmug… and while the photos are nicely grouped by month and mostly have original names and details, there are an awful lot fewer of them than in the other files, making me wonder if some were lost by Picturelife during their ongoing problems, or (perhaps less likely) lost during the Picturelife-to-Smugmug migration
  • picturelife_zip would be the ideal – an export from Picturelife in a supported manner, month by month, with full metadata such as date taken and GPS coordinates, plus name tagging, in an XMP file for each photo and video there. Unfortunately, I missed around a year’s worth of these

So – I need to figure out a way to sort all these out so that I end up not losing too many precious memories, and am able to find photos that I’m looking for!


And that’s what I’m currently working on. Unfortunately, it looks very complicated. My findings so far:


I definitely wouldn’t have deliberately deleted this Hot Air Balloon video

  • I typically find only half the photos/videos in Smugmug compared to Picturelife. I’m not sure if that’s because I deleted some when sorting them out between the PL export (periodically) and SM export (this week), or because of any database corruption.
  • I have definitely found some videos missing that I would not have deleted, such as a hot-air balloon flight we took (see still from the video above). Again, I suspect this is due to the evident corruption I’ve seen where a video is shown in the PL/SM database, even in the iphone app but clicking it fails to play it
  • SM appears not to preserve video timestamps – the date it was taken. You would end up with just a mass of videos organised only by the month the export folder is for. PL export did keep the datestamp, in the XMP file.
  • SM re-encodes video from MOV to MP4, at the same screensize, but a lower bitrate (which could be due to better compression)



The below table is a cut/paste of one I’m working on, where I’ve compared like-for-like sets of photos or videos between Smugmug and Picturelife. As you can see, I’m comparing various parameters – metadata, file counts, etc. As I learn more, I’ll share it here.




SM Value

PL Value


Jan 2015

Total file size





Total files

174 files

498 files



Total movie file size

17 files / 215MB

30 files / 1420MB







Video format




Photo list comparison



Sept 2014

Directory Contents

180 files / 400MB

846 files / 2660MB



MP4 files

17 files / 182MB

56 files / 2280MB



MP4 file : family present unwrapping sample




VIDEO0005.mp4 comparison

11MB size

30MB size



VIDEO0005.mp4 Encoding comparison




Smugmug version appears to have been recoded


VIDEO00005.mp4 Datestamp comparison



PL has original date in “Modified field” in both XMP file and MP4 file propertes. SM only has current


May 2014

IMAG0528 Properties comparison













Photo details from the same event:


Again, the SmugMug video has been re-coded:

  • to MP4 from MOV
  • From 22Mbps to 7mbps
  • From 29fps to 30fps
  • From Mono to Stereo sound
  • From 55MB to 20MB


The datestamping is interesting:

  • Smugmug has no original datestamp at all:
    • the modified date is the date it was imported from Picturelife
    • The created date is the date it was downloaded from Smugmug
  • In Picturelife
    • The file’s “date modified” is 5th June likely the date the download was created from PL
    • The XMP file’s “date modified” is 10th May and appears to be the original date the photo was taken





Categories: Uncategorized
  1. damo
    August 28, 2016 at 11:05 am

    As if to confirm this, I ran a byte-wise duplicate scanner across all three folders together, and they did not find a single identical file. Even though many of the files are of course identical, the fact that datestamps or other metadata differ are enough for a direct comparison to fail.

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